Saturday, September 01, 2007

Double fault!


Black folks we can't win for losing can we? You all know the old joke about hiding stuff from black folks by putting it in a book. Well, it seems Serena was shattering that stereotype for all the world to see at the U.S. Open, when the Chair Umpire called her out for reading. Yes, you heard right, reading. It seems that during her match with Verna Zvnareva, Chair Umpire Damian Steiner, called out girlfriend for reading. Now frankly, Steiner ought to be public enemy number one in my book. Well, actually, public enemy number two where tennis is concerned. (More on that in a minute)Because the last thing anybody should be doing is discourage a young black person from reading. I don't care if she is a tennis superstar.


Seems there is a rule in tennis that you cannot be coached or get instructions while you are playing. So if a ball boy, for instance, were to pass Serena a note from her Dad, it would be a problem. But that wasn't the case here. Girlfriend was being a good role model and showing the world that black folks can read. And not just not any black person, an athlete no less. To me, that's a beautiful thing. I can hear the folks in the stands now: "Do you see that honey, she can actually read? Wow! Those Williams girls are talented and smart. "


But thankfully, cooler heads prevailed at the Open, and Serena was allowed to continue reading. "He told me I couldn't use my notes. I was like, well, it's not like I'm Harry Potter and my Dad can magically give me notes to read. What if I were to take a paper on the court and write something, what's the difference?" No difference Serena. In fact, you would show the world that black folks can read and write.


Now for public enemy number one in my book. As you might or might not know, the folks at the U.S. Open were celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first African American-who happened to be Althea Gibson- to win a tennis tournament. They planned to have a lavish celebration at center court, and an opening night tribute to Gibson. Now that's a good thing, so far no problems. In keeping with this, they sent out special invitations to the kids at the Althea Gibson Tennis Center here in Philadelphia. The center is in a poor section of Philadelphia, and the kids that go there are from mostly underprivileged backgrounds. I know a thing or two about this center, and they do a great job in the community. They have produced public league tennis players who will no doubt go on to receive college scholarships, and have kept countless kids off the streets. So this was a beautiful gesture by the USTA, and it was to be a great night in the lives of these kids, many of whom had never even left Philly. They were going to share the center court with stars such as Aretha Franklin, and Jackie Joyner-Kersee.


But alas, it wasn't to be. Sadly, the invitations to these poor kids were revoked, and the bush league USTA blamed it on poor planning. "We had an overwhelming response from celebrities who wanted to participate in the broadcast" That's what the U.S. Tennis Association's Chris Widmaier said. Well Mr. Widmaier, if you think this would have meant more to a bunch of jaded "celebrities" than to these little kids, you and your organization are totally clueless.


That's not what Althea would have wanted.


16 comments:

Francis Holland said...

I'm glad they let Serena keep reading on the court. Venus and Serena Williams are talented and superior on the court, they're smart and they are sexy! I remember exactly where I was when Venus (I think it was Venus) won at Flushing Meadows in 1998. I was standing in a New Jersey diner, jumping up and down and clapping at the television with tears in my eyes. That was a first for me.

I once paid an absurd amount of money (about $150.00) for two tickets to see Venus play in Nice, France, which was unfortunately anti-climactic. I think they should rename a state in their honor: "VenusandSerena."

Anonymous said...

Funny you should mention that...
http://www.blackathlete.net/artman2/publish/Commentary_1/Tennis_Dirty_Little_Secret.shtml

field negro said...

"VenusandSerena" huh. Mmmmm,what part of the country will it be in?

Thanks Max, I will check out that site.

Anne Rettenberg LCSW said...

Unbelievable about the ceremony...did they tell those celebrities, "if you come to this we'll have to revoke the invitations to the underprivileged kids?" I mean who would accept the invitation if they knew that?? I would like to know the whole story about this.

Hathor said...

They should have taken the children anyway (not directly into the confrontation)and bought the black press.
How can they renege on an invitation?
What was it, floor space they were looking for?

For so many of them to be class conscious, do they know how gauche they were.

Anonymous said...

Field, where did you hear about this?

rikyrah said...

Field,

What a pathetic story. The USTA should be ashamed of themselves. Messing with those kids - shameful.

field negro said...

eliz, and Max, this was in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Friday August 31st. The reporter who covered the story is Annette John-Hall. (Sorry, I should have linked her in my post)Anyway,I also know a couple of people who volunteer over there (The Center) who told me about what the USTA did to these kids as well.

The USTA said it was because they didn't expect the response they got from other people invovled. They also said they would mention the center and give away free tickets to some of the kids as an act of contrition.

BTW, I know a thing or two about the USTA. I play tennis myself (4.5 rated for those of you who know about such things) and the USTA does not have a very good history. So frankly, I wasn't as surprised as the rest of you at their actions.

Anonymous said...

A good friend is attending the Open this weekend. His birthday is Wednesday.

I AM SOOOOOO JEALOUS!! :)

It's all good. Trust me, you can't find a bigger Venus & Serena fan than he.

Christopher Chambers said...

And the response from Mayor Street (nice name), all the other pathetic black leaders in the City of Brotherly Hate and across the nation was...? Yep, silence. Most of these fools probably don't even know who Althea Gibson was. As for the USTA--they are racist scum. But in keeping with my defense of Jason Whitlock, if someone told me they subcontracted event planning to some black PR firm run by somebody who hobnobs with whitey or is a friend of a friend of some black muckty-muck who is also in the elite, USTA awarded the contract, and that firm messed it up, it wouldn't shock or surprise me...

Holla

Francis Holland said...

Field I don't know what part of the country the state of Venusandserena will be in, but that's the state I want to live in, if I ever come back to the United States at all. California would be a natural, since Venus and Serena were born there. But, Florida would make sense too, since that's where we they live now.

Even better would be too rename one of the states that has a horrible name now and that desperately NEEDS a new name. You know what states those are. :)

On a different tip, what do you suppose engenders more controversy in a Black family? Being gay or marrying a white woman? That's the question I explore in an essay today, entitled,

"Gays, White Women, Controversy and Acceptance in a Black Family."

field negro said...

"..controversy in a Black family? Being gay or marrying a white woman?"

Ahhhh hell no! You won't get me to touch that one Francis. I gotta read your post. Still, I am going to take a guess and say it depends on how many females are in the family. More females; more accepting of the gay family member, and less accepting of the interacial marriage. More males, and we flip the script.

Chris, I am not sure who the USTA used as their PR firm. But black or white, they should be fired today!

rikyrah said...

On a different tip, what do you suppose engenders more controversy in a Black family? Being gay or marrying a white woman? That's the question I explore in an essay today, entitled,

What happens if you're gay AND bring home a WHITE MAN.

Lord have mercy.

Anonymous said...

Rikyrah, that's hilarious!

Angie

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